Area landowners speak out against reservoirs at NRD meeting

Standing-room only crowd expresses objection to reservoir concepts

The Lower Elkhorn Natural Resources District has maintained that it is nowhere near ready to build a reservoir anywhere in the area.
That didn't stop an overflow, standing-room-only crowd of more than 250 from expressing their opposition Thursday to having one built on their farm land.
The LENRD board met at the Lifelong Learning Center at Northeast Community College to discuss a reservoir evaluation project conducted by Olsson Associates that evaluated 10 creeks in the district for potentially being turned into a reservoir.
While such a project would take the better part of a decade to build, the fact that they were even being considered drew the ire of those in attendance, and several from Wayne County were on hand to express their objection to one being built at Dog Creek, located in the northern part of Wayne County.
Perry Nelson, a Wayne County landowner and graduate of Wayne High School and Wayne State College, flew into town from his home in Louisville, Colo., to object to the possibility of a reservoir on his property.
"I'm just appalled," he said. "I can't believe we have an organization that wants to spend 45, 50 or 100 (thousand dollars) to go get some other funds that we don't know we're going to use yet. That's crazy," he said.
Nelson said the well used by the City of Wayne is about a mile from his farm, and he said his well was dug only 16 feet before hitting water.
"That aquifer is full," he said. "How are you going to recharge a full aquifer?"
Shari Dunklau said her family has owned land along Dog Creek for more than a century, and they also don't want to see that land turned into a reservoir.
"A lifetime has been invested in building our operation," she said.
Dunklau challenged the notion that a reservoir would take care of flooding issues in the area.
"Wayne's airport is an official (NOAA) weather reporting system, and . . . it reports no floods on Dog Creek," she said. "The report your experts gave you doesn't say Dog Creek Floods. It doesn't have a history of flooding. There is no reason to build a dam on Dog Creek to prevent flooding. In fact, it would do the opposite and you would create flooding."
Wayne County Commissioner chairman Randy Larsen also spoke out against the proposed Dog Creek reservoir concept, stating the county has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds to reconstruct bridges and improve roads in the county where the reservoir would be located.
"I can't speak for the other commissioners, but it's safe to say that I have no desire or intention of closing any roads or modifying any infrastructure we are trying to rebuild," he said, adding that the proposed reservoir would cover three bridges the county completed just last year, along with four county roads that have a 100 percent efficiency rating.
While opposition expressed during public comment was unanimous, LENRD director Mike Sousek did read correspondence sent to him by Wayne Mayor Ken Chamberlain, City Councilman Cale Giese and City Administrator Lowell Johnson, all of whom were in favor of further study of the Dog Creek project.
"I completely understand the hardship this may cause for some . . . and would hope all landowners would be treated and compensated fairly," Chamberlain said in his e-mail. "That being said, I do not ignore the economic benefit and other benefits for the city of Wayne should the project move forward."
Sousek said that, while the issues surrounding the initial study still exist, the idea of further study on potential reservoir projects will likely be put on the back burner for now. Even if one were approved, it would be the better part of 10 years before a reservoir would become a reality.

For the complete story, pick up a copy of The Wayne Herald. Call (402) 375-2600 to start your subscription.

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